"I'm honored to serve House Elvin," Angelista said with a bow when she returned. She had noticed the matriarch's killer gaze.
Defeating a magus of House Andalir was no doubt a huge achievement. However, Angelista did too much. Sala wanted to use her to boost the morale of the household troops, but she didn't want Angelista to stand out far too much. All the glory and attention should be focused on her, the matriarch!
She felt her rage boiling over. However, Angelista was not that much of a fool. She didn't forget her place and that prevented her from exploding with rage right just there.
"Hmph!" Sala humphed audibly and cast a plain gaze at Angelista. She then articulated the following words in a forced manner: "Nice. work. The house. will. remember. your. contribution."
"Thank you," Angelista nodded.
"Mister Sol, are you still going to struggle stubbornly?" Sala used her divine powers to broadcast her voice loudly. "As you can see, even though while we didn't kill off all of House Andalir's elders, I'm sure you know that the house is more or less done for. Elije Andalir is dead. Are you going to continue pledging your loyalty to a dead soul? I doubt that's something any upright dark elf should be doing."
Sala's words caused the elves of House Andalir to began chattering. They had long heard about the assassination of their matriarch over the past few days. However, the house insisted that Elije was still alive; she had even appeared before everyone several times.
That wasn't enough to dispel their doubts, however. The house was full of magi and any one of them could easily transform into her. Not long after that, House Elvin launched a full-force attack on the castle of House Andalir and that move only fueled their suspicions. If the matriarch truly wasn't dead, would House Elvin attack them despite being in a disadvantageous position for more than a year?
Sala's words only further stoked those suspicions. They all turned to Sol. His reply would shape the future of the house.
Sol pondered in silence for a moment and smiled. After summoning the winter wight, the huge dark elf had turned into a tall but lanky old man. The wrinkles were only accentuated by his smile. Sol looked at Sala and broadcast his voice. "You're right, Matriarch Sala. Knowing when to back down is the mark of the wise. I, Sol, am willing to serve House Elvin and become one of its members. From this day onwards, there is no more Sol Andalir, only Sol Elvin."
All the elves of House Andalir broke into a panic. It was no wonder their matriarch looked completely different from before. It was no wonder a few elders vanished without explanation. Looks like the rumors in Darklight weren't fake at all!
"Sol! Quit that nonsensical rambling now! All we elders are fine!" they helplessly cried, knowing that if this was allowed to continue, Sol would really join and serve House Elvin!
"Matriarch Elije is right here, and all we elders are doing fine," they said in a panic, "House Elvin is doing nothing but pathetic sneak attacks! Tribeswomen! Don't stop resisting! Hold on for a little longer! Our reinforcements are going to arrive! Victory will be ours! Praise Ross!"
The elders pointed at the matriarch with the sluggish expression standing further behind. While it looked rather realistic, anyone close enough would notice the sight stiffness of her expressions when she spoke. The real Elije was extremely cunning and sharp and would never make such an expression.
[While she's not that powerful, she's rather sharp,] Leguna told his teacher. Apart from Sol, the only other person that caused them trouble was Matriarch Elije. This person had quite a large number of life-saving weapons equipped and if not for Leguna's impressive stealth abilities afford by Shadowedge that rendered him practically invisible, he wouldn't have been able to approach her closely enough to tell that she was a fake.
This Elije was just a 16-stratum priestess. According to his intel, she was not even sixty and couldn't be considered an adult dark elf. Leguna didn't think she would be that simple to deal with.
[Might is right. The dark elves are the same to you humans in this regard. Nobody will pay attention to how strong a dead person was,] Gahrona commented.
Within Andalir's stronghold, the only response garnered by the elders' words was silence. All dark elves would no longer be as easily moved by the elders. Nobody would truly give their lives for the household any longer.
"Hehe… Hahahaha!" Sol suddenly started cackling.
"Sol, you despicable bastard, what are you laughing for?!" a wrinkled elder asked nervously. Sol was House Andalir's support pillar. If he betrayed them, the house would truly be in real threat.
"Oh esteemed Matriarch Sala, there's something I have to report to you," Sol said, ignoring the elders. His eyes were still glowing crimson.
"Speak." With victory in hand, Sala was in a rather tolerant mood.
"That Elije is fake," Sol revealed, "After Matriarch Elije was assassination by that terrifying human the elders had me make a flesh puppet. This should be the last thing I did for House Andalir. I also made sure to make some of my own modifications to it…"
"So?" Sala could already guess what was about to happen.
The moment Sol's words fell, the meat puppet exploded all of a sudden. After the blood-and-flesh mist covered the other female elders, they began to rot at a rate visible to the naked eye.
"This is my final gift for House Andalir, as well as my first gift to House Elvin." Sol bowed elegantly and submitted himself to House Elvin.
Sol had long been considering his own livelihood since Elije's assassination. He made two preparations for that. The first was to continue serving House Andalir. If he could help them past this trying time, those female elders would definitely understand his value. He'd definitely be able to reap lots of profit should that come to pass.
The other thing he prepared was the meat puppet. He set up a rotting explosion formation within it. When the situation seemed to go south for him, he could use it to prove that his loyalty had been wavering long ago. It appeared that circumstances pushed him to choose the second option.
Sala didn't speak a word. But anyone paying attention to her would be able to see the excitement contained within her beautiful eyes. She suppressed her feelings and spoke in a slightly trembling voice, "Tribeswomen… did you see that? House Andalir's elders are all dead! Andalir's elites are no longer here! You're faced with nothing but a disorganized mess! Do you really fear them? Will you shirk back in fear against pathetic losers? Nay! Raise your weapons high and attack! Praise Ross!"
"Praise Ross!" All elves of House Elvin were charged with excitement. They knew the kind of battle they would soon face: a one-sided massacre. Beating a down enemy was one of the favorite pastimes of dark elves.
"Mother," Brani said as she came over, "We also suffered quite a number of losses in this battle. We need to recruit more of them to replace those we lost. I hope you can think more for the sake of the household."
Sala cupped her daughter's face mercilessly and shot her a fierce glare. "Don't think I don't know what you're planning, Brani. You're trying to buy support at a time like this? Do you think I'd really let you do that? Remember who really is the matron of the house!"
"Apologies, I know my mistake now." Even though she was struck, a look of joy flashed across her face. She knew that Sala would despair a few days later. She wondered how excited she'd get at seeing her make that kind of expression.
"Hmph!" Sala shot a look at her people and was mulling it over. Foolish as she was, she knew she couldn't allow the massacre to continue. That won't only cause House Elvin to lose a large number of captives, the house would also suffer even larger losses if the enemy continued to fight desperately.
"Tell our people to capture them alive if possible."
"Yes…" Brani breathed a sigh of relief. She recited an incantation and used a divine miracle to relay the order to every dark elf.
The battle ended rather quickly in four short hours. Before most of the other houses of Darklight managed to get into the action for a piece of the pie, Sala had proudly returned to House Elvin's castle with the rest of her troops.
The onlookers hurriedly rushed to where the battle was fought hours ago. While there weren't many Elvins left there, their flag had been planted in the area, so the houses that feared House Elvin's might couldn't afford to violate it and chose to leave.Previous Chapter Next Chapter